Closing in on the givers of orders to silence through killing | Sunday Observer

Closing in on the givers of orders to silence through killing

It was heartening reading the headlines in a daily on Tuesday 21 March: CID informs Magistrate’s court: special military intelligence team killed Lasantha. We, the public of free Sri Lanka, are not blood thirsty seekers of revenge; nor do we ghoulishly take delight in the smell of blood. We are in reality full of the milk of human kindness sloshing around in our veins and we possess metta. But we like it when verminous rats we abhor are caught. And there were and are plenty of these sorts in this Paradise of ours. Snakes? Yes. Poisonous reptiles? Present among us of course! Murderous power hungry and then power satiated murderers? Yes, we affirm their existence even in this time of yahapalanaya, shivering in our Bata sandals.

The paper goes on to say the CID on Monday informed the Mt Lavinia Magistrate’s Court that Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha had been assassinated in 2009 by a special group operating under the then military intelligence head Maj Gen Kapila Hendawitharana attached to the Joint Operations Command. The million rupee question, easily answered, is who was the overall Commander of this special command. Wednesday’s paper reported a verbal duel between our ex Army Commander and the then Secretary of Defence. This will get hotter. The latter has asked a uselessly rhetorical question: Why did not the former protest or take action against a special unit? How for goodness sake could he when there was an all powerful person above him?

So it looks as if the CID is closing in on the real murderers of Lasantha. To compound matters and make the assassination truly heinous is that it is now proven that Lasantha was not shot at nor strangled. His marvellous brain was mercilessly invaded by a sharp object. How sadistically cruel can human beings be? It was said he was shot. That is like rugggerite Thajudeen driving himself to death in his car. We now have hope that that murder most foul will also be investigated with no holds barred and truth will be out and justice meted. Never mind who it was that ordered the most foul crime. It’s not with the messenger that the investigative team must stop its probe but go further and get to the person or persons who gave the message.

Maybe this feline expresses the opinion of the very many, and particularly women who are more particularly touched by a handsome journalist wielding a sharp pen often hilariously witty, and a young son playing rugger and other games. We are not extractors of a tooth for a tooth, nor an eye for an eye. The quality of mercy runs deep in us. But murders carried out blatantly with not a jot of regard for law, order, justice and fair play have to be punished. Otherwise such acts will continue to be perpetrated. It must be admitted that though much blame is heaped on this government, democracy and the laws of the land prevail. But if murders committed in the time of the last government and crimes committed within the last two years are not punished; they will be repeated. Not that society will turn lily white. Crimes, corruption, cheating will continue but of course to a much lesser degree. It is often pronounced that bringing back capital punishment will not deter murderers altogether. True, but a reduction in dire crimes will result.

Which brings to mind a political assassination in 1990 during the presidency of Ranasinghe Premadasa of a charismatic and vibrant personality who equalled both Lasantha and Thajudeen. In the wee hours ere the dawn of 18 February, he was abducted from his home and his whereabouts completely unknown until the next day his mutilated body was washed ashore at Lunawa. This was unexpected. He was tortured, killed and then his weighted body taken in a helicopter and dropped far out at sea, never to return. But Richard de Zoysa did return to the shores of the Island he had refused to leave though threatened, and a journalistic job overseas arranged for him. Dr. Manorani Sarawanamuttu, his mother, left not the slightest stone unturned to identify his murderers. People then were in the throes of a psychosis of fear; people would not even discuss the murder though tears were shed copiously by those who knew the young man; had been electrified seeing him on stage or had just heard his name or seen a picture of him.

As stated in the book brought out in 2000 to commemorate this young unfortunate multi-talented man titled: Richard de Zoysa: his life, some work … a death, “The least controlled of the Sri Lankan papers suggested four possibilities as to his death.” One was that he had been killed by the anti-government People’s Liberation Front. Another was that RAW was the culprit, this idea put forward by Premadasa’s man, A. J. Ranasinghe. (Wasn’t he the one who said he relished sereppu soup made of his boss’ footwear!).

The third suggestion floated by President Premadasa himself was that the murder was on account of a personal grudge. None of these held water. Most who mourned the dynamic young man believed he had been killed by government sponsored vigilantes for his activities and writings, like a drama with a title that was used on the President that caused embarrassment and annoyance to the power that was. Similar to times from 2009 to 2014 when menacing, abducting white vans cruised the streets, the last years of Premadasa’s presidency were wrought with fear and gruesome rumours, most true. Manorani did identify the police officer who had taken Richard away on that fateful night but her accusations were brushed aside. She would have persisted, such her love, such her bereavement, but the man she accused was a right hand guardian in uniform to Premadasa and he too got blown up on May 1st.

Richard asked in his August 1981 poem Apocalypse Soon

“Has the Fifth Horseman come again to raise

His banner, and wreak havoc in the land?”

He did, Richard, and with many grim gatherers with scythes of extrajudicial killing. But times are much better and maybe, may even be, the real dread murderers whose hands remain white but whose wills and minds are blood drenched, will be caught, made known, and punished.

Wimal Weerawanse has launched himself on a fast unto death in remand prison. Let him, is what this feline says. - Menika

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